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ACLU protests linkage on porn

Cache deputies will collect data at crime scenes

A new policy that requires Cache County sheriff's deputies to document pornography at crime scenes violates the First Amendment, says the American Civil Liberties Union of Utah.

Deputies will soon begin documenting pornography found at every crime scene and during arrests, Lt. Matt Bilodeau said. The sheriff created the new program to compile statistics that will help police determine a "cause and effect" between pornography and crime.

"We'll have a direct reflection of our community so we can know what's going on there and we can better serve it," Bilodeau said.

Bilodeau said police have seen a "steady increase" of pornography at crime scenes in the past few years.

But officials at the Utah ACLU said the new form of record-keeping is an invasion of privacy.

"What if every time they went into a house for a search they started writing down all the books on the shelf and looking at every magazine?" said Dani Eyer, executive director of the Utah ACLU. "I think that's the kind of surveillance that we're unaccustomed to and we react to in America."

Eyer said police have every right to collect evidence at crime scenes, but it's another thing to scan people's reading materials, thoughts and associations.

Bilodeau said every police agency is responsible for tracking crime statistics. The sheriff's new program is just another set of numbers.

"We're profiling trends in relationship to crime," Bilodeau. "We're keeping statistics. That's what we do."

The problem is defining what pornography is, both Bilodeau and Eyer said. Is pornography a Playboy magazine or hard-core materials on a computer?

Bilodeau said attorneys are working with the sheriff's office to clearly define pornography in order to track the statistics.

Deputies will begin to collect pornography statistics within the next few weeks, Bilodeau said. The sheriff's office is working out legal details before implementing the program.

It may take years of research to compile enough pornography statistics to thoroughly understand the data, Bilodeau said.


E-MAIL: ldethman@desnews.com